Law Practice Management News
Ideas for Lawyers and Managers That Dare To Be Different September 2011

in this issue

Law Firm Strategy: Where to Start

Using Legal Project Management to Improve Law Firm Profitability

Solo-Small Firm Question of the Month - Expanding Law Practice Into Insurance Defense

John Olmstead to Participate in Illinois State Bar Association Solo Small Firm Conference

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John W. Olmstead


Welcome to Olmstead & Associates Law Practice News, a law practice management resource for practicing attorneys, managing partners, administrators, and others that must keep updated on all aspects of law firm management.

Our Law Practice Management E-Newsletter is distributed on the first Wednesday of each month. Look for it and send us your emails with your ideas for topics that you would like covered. I wish to thank those who take the time to email me with their thoughts and comments. I encourage our readers to do so.

  • Law Firm Strategy: Where to Start
  • Strategic planning is essentially a five step process. The first step begins by asking questions. Start by asking the following questions:

    1. What substantive issues does the firm face today?
    2. What issues will the firm face tomorrow?
    3. How has technology impacted (or will impact) how the firm conducts business and delivers services to clients?
    4. What are we doing and doing well?
    5. What are we not doing well?

    Read on for additional questions. . .
  • Using Legal Project Management to Improve Law Firm Profitability
  • Legal project management has become the hot topic of late and we are seeing articles, workshops, and seminars on the topic. Over the years project management has evolved into its own discipline with its own jargon, tools, methodologies, software, etc. Project management as a discipline can become quite technical and complex. Many of the techniques such as PERT and CPM came from the department of defense and were initially utilized to manage projects such as the Polaris Submarine and space projects. The construction industry makes extensive use of project management techniques.

    Considering that a legal matter is a project, particularly a large litigation matter, with many moving parts there has been a push by clients and an effort by law firms to look for ways to improve the management of matters and related resources, costs, timelines, etc. and to improve and streamline the overall process. Legal Project Management is a customized approach to matter management borrowing and applying some of the principles of project management and incorporating into a simpler and leaner model. Numerous workshops, training seminars, and publications are being offered on the topic.

    Read on ...
  • Solo-Small Firm Question of the Month - Expanding Law Practice Into Insurance Defense
  • Question I have been sending out correspondence to insurance companies offering my services in defense of general liability, property/casualty, and employment practices claims. My goal would be to develop a regular stream of business from these types of cases, and to cross-market our other services to clients that come through insurance defense referrals. I am not sure if I am going about this the right way, and would like to seek your counsel.

    Answer:In all honesty I have more firms asking how to diversify out of insurance defense into more self-insured and direct representation work. If you want to pursue this market you will need to become part of the club and do more than just dabble in this area. You will have to get on the "approved lists" of the various insurance companies. Once you are on these lists you have to entice claims manager to use you as opposed to other law firms that are on their approved lists. In other words establish relationships with numerous claims manager throughout the company. This is harder than it used to be due to policies that many companies now have prohibiting various forms of networking such as dinners, gifts, ball games, etc. Now days it seems that educational venues is one of the few formats that is not frowned upon. You may also find that some companies reluctant to work with a firm your size. I have advise by insurance companies that they like to see a certain level of bench strength (backup). The firm does not have to be a large firm but often the insurance company likes to see a minimum of four or five lawyers in a firm. You will have to have a track record of success, understand the business, and be able to accomodate the unique billing (including electronic LEDES billing), case management, and reporting requirements that insurance companies require.

    Here are a few ideas to get started:

    1. Become involved in every possible organization that involves insurance claims, ACCA, and other such groups.
    2. Join and become actively involved in these groups.
    3. Ofter to give speeches and presentations to these groups.
    4. Develop relationships with news reports and have an effective public program that insures that you get all the PR you can when you have successful outcomes in your cases.
    5. Speak at ACCA and RIMS (Risk Insurance Management Society) conferences.
    6. Form alliances with bigger regional and national insurance defense firms.
    7. Research target companies and make application to get on their approved lists.
    8. Obtain listings in Best and Martindale.
    9. Have a quality website that demonstrates expertise and a e-newsletter that provides information that will help claims managers and adjuster be more successful.

  • John Olmstead to Participate in Illinois State Bar Association Solo Small Firm Conference
  • John Olmstead will present a session entitled - Managing Client Trust Accounts: Setting Up Client Trust Account Software October 27, 2011 at Hilton Springfield, Springfield, Illinois. The program will be part of the Illinois State Bar Assn 7th Annual Solo Small Firm Conference.

    For more information ...
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